Man who bludgeoned friend to death with hammer after fall out is jailed for murder

A man who bludgeoned his friend with a hammer after they had a falling out has been jailed for at least 15 years for murder.

John Young, 33, wrestled the weapon from 46-year-old James Hynes during a fight and went on to inflict "nine or 10 blows" to his head and body.

Mr Hynes died in hospital several weeks later due to "complication from blunt force head trauma".

Young pleaded guilty to murder at the High Court in Edinburgh last month and was handed a life sentence with at least 15 years behind bars on Tuesday.

Judge Lady Haldane said: "Not only have you taken his life, but you have deprived his family of a much-loved father, partner and grandfather.

"Nothing I say or do today can alter that tragic reality or truly reflect the loss that his family have suffered."

The attack occurred in Livingston, West Lothian, on 21 July last year.

The court heard how Young had fallen out with Mr Hynes over "various issues" earlier that month.

Mr Hynes was in bed with his partner when an intoxicated Young began banging loudly on the window of the property.

A fight broke out and Mr Hynes, armed with a hammer, struck Young.

Young wrestled the weapon from Mr Hynes, with the fight ending with the victim lying on the ground.

Young initially walked away, but Lady Haldane said: "Tragically, you did not leave matters there but came back and inflicted nine or 10 blows with the hammer to Mr Hynes as he lay on the ground, telling him you were going to kill him.

"You did not achieve that aim immediately, but Mr Hynes did succumb to his injuries about a month later.

"Post-mortem results disclosed at least five blows with a heavy implement to Mr Hynes' head and face."

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Mr Hynes' partner found him lying in the street and called for an ambulance.

He was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where he was found to have multiple skull fractures with bleeding and bruising on his brain.

Mr Hynes also suffered a traumatic brain injury, facial bone fractures, a fracture of the eye socket, multiple rib fractures and a fractured breastbone.

He required surgery to remove part of his skull to alleviate pressure on his brain, and was placed in an induced coma, intubated and remained in intensive care.

Mr Hynes suffered a large bleed on his brain a few weeks later on 17 August, which led to "global irreversible brain injury". His condition was deemed "unsurvivable".

After discussions with his family, his life support was withdrawn on 19 August. Mr Hynes died later that day.

Shelagh McCall KC, representing Young, said he had suffered many "adverse" childhood experiences and that he had tried to cope with this by "self-medicating" with drink and drugs.

Ms McCall added: "He also wants me to convey his remorse at what he has done to Mr Hynes and for the suffering he has caused to his family."